Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Survivor: Zeeann Bumpus

“One person can make a difference”

J-E News Editor
Webster County Relay for life will be hosting its 2014 event on Saturday, June 14, at Trojan Field in Dixon.
As we prepare for the event, The Journal-Enterprise would like to take an opportunity to honor a few Webster County residents who have won their battle with cancer. Their stories are all different, but each one is an inspiration.
The various cancer survivors I’ve had the privilege of speaking with over the last two years have a variety of stories to tell, and I always let them tell their story the way they want to tell it. This week’s interview didn’t exactly how I expected, but the results were just as inspirational as any others.

“Everybody already knows my story,” said Dixon resident Zeeann Bumpus, who says she has been interviewed by The Journal-Enterprise in the past. “I’ve been trying to think  of what I can tell you, and I keep coming back to Relay.”
June will mark the 29th anniversary of Bumpus’ first cancer surgery, and since her treatments were completed, she has not had a reoccurrence. Throughout those years she has been very involved with Webster County Relay for Life, although she admits that in recent years her involvement has dropped considerably.
“I have grandchildren now that I didn’t have in the beginning and I’ve had some illness in the family to deal with,” she said. “I’ve chosen to turn my focus towards family in the last few years.”
Bumpus said that every time she goes to a doctor for a checkup, it amazes her how far cancer treatment has come since she was going through it almost three decades ago.
“I am surprised at how well the patients look,” she said. “Twenty-nine years ago we did not look well. That’s a big deal for someone who is sick. When you can look in the mirror and think, ‘you look better than you did yesterday’, that means a lot.”
Bumpus said that people really need to remember how far the treatments have come in the last 29 years, and they need to remember that organizations like the Webster County Relay for Life are greatly responsible for that.
“Relay for Life started in Seattle,” she explained. “One man. One day. He walked for twenty-four hours. When you break it down, it’s really that simple. One person can make a difference.”
Bumpus said that planning the event it’s a difficult process, not one that should be taken lightly. But in the end, everything comes down to “ones.”
“You have one person standing at the four-way stop with one bucket,” she said. “One person stops and gives one dollar on one day. Then it all comes down to one candle around the track during relay.”
Bumpus said that the key to Relay is each individual person that gets involved. By themselves someone might not have all of the connections or abilities to make everything work, but when they pull together, anything is possible.
“I look at things sometime and think, I can’t do that because I don’t have the resources. But you group people together and anything is possible. When people in Webster County commit to something, they are relentless. You group them together and they can do anything.”
In recent years involvement in Relay for Life has fallen off around the county. The schools, which were always huge supporters, have had to start raising money for some of their own programs.
“A lot of the churches have had to refocus their outreaches,” she said. “We have people here who are hungry. They needed to refocus. But it’s cost a lot of support for Relay.
“But Relay isn’t about the money. It is, but it isn’t. Everything has had to change because of economics. Relay is really about a group of people, each coming together to honor one person. It all culminates on that one night with one candle.”